BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Berri postpones presidential election to Sept. 2

Lawmakers fail to elect a new president in a tenth attempt Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanese lawmakers botched a tenth attempt Tuesday to elect a new president, reflecting lack of agreement on a consensus candidate for the head the state.

Lack of quorum, as in all previous sessions, prompted Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone the voting session to Sept. 2.

A statement read out by Berri’s spokesman Mohammad Ballout said the speaker had postponed the session until noon on Sept. 2 “over lack of quorum.”

It was the same scenario as the previous sessions at Parliament, only this time a fewer number of MPs appeared for the vote.

Nearly 30 minutes after the voting session was scheduled to begin, there were only 57 MPs present in Parliament. And just as before, Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam did not show up for the session.

The Future Movement-led March 14 coalition has blamed the persistent boycott of Parliament by Hezbollah-led March 8 lawmakers for the presidential stalemate that has paralyzed Parliament legislation and is threatening to cripple the work of the government.

MPs from Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc, along with Hezbollah and its March 8 allies have thwarted quorum by boycotting the sessions, instead arguing that a prior deal must be struck with their March 14 rivals on a consensus candidate.

Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad reiterated the March 8 demand for accord on a consensus candidate as a condition for breaking the deadlock.

“The political stance on the presidential election has not changed. What is required is an agreement among the political parties on a conciliatory candidate for the presidency,” Fayyad told The Daily Star Monday.

The return of Future head leader Saad Hariri has been hailed by some lawmakers as the impetus needed to break the stalemate on the presidential election with March 14 MP Jean Ogasapian saying Hariri “is expected to make tangible progress in the presidential election.”

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea however, while praising Hariri's return from Saudi Arabia as “positive,” said his presence in Lebanon “will not change anything in terms of the presidential election because it’s not March 14 that is disrupting the election; it’s the other [political] team.”

 

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